One of the quickest ways to stand out from the crowd is one of the easiest. And, unfortunately, it can make you look very good or incredibly bad. The concept I’m referring to is timing. Your timing can have a huge impact on your outcome on multiple fronts professionally.
I learned this lesson the hard way. As a senior in college, I was rapidly applying to many potential jobs. An amazing one came across my desk that was perfect. I would have been the person who designs the way a website looks – to make it user friendly.
In some job interviews, the employer will give you a test. This exam was to build an entire website from scratch. It was a huge task, but it gave them a sense for your skill set.
At the same time, I was offered the chance to be an extra in a well-known movie. I had never done anything like that before and the 21-year-old me just couldn’t pass up the opportunity. I contacted the employer and asked for just a few extra days to participate. They were very understanding and agreed to extend my deadline by a few days.
When the movie was over, I worked furiously to build the perfect site. It was an instructional guide about photography and contained beautiful photos. I proudly submitted my new website by the agreed-upon date. I received a friendly note back from the hiring manager. It read something like this: “Thank you for taking the time to build this website. It looks wonderful! In fact, even better than the person we already hired.”
I could not believe it. The company didn’t even give me a chance to submit my homework by the new agreed-upon date. And, they selected a less-qualified candidate just because they had been faster.
This experience taught me a valuable lesson. When it comes to the job market, timing is everything. The first place to keep it in mind is the application. You should apply quickly when you see a job posted. Apply within 24 hours of when you find it. Companies often want to select a handful of candidates and may miss later additions.
This policy also applies to email. At a minimum, you should respond to all emails within 24 hours. Did you know that many people actually expect a response within hours if not minutes? If you don’t know the answer to a question, send an email letting the person know their email was received and that you’re following up on it.
When it comes to business meetings or interviews, being on time can also impact your success. To ensure you arrive right on time, try locating the building the night before. Build in a few minutes extra, in case of traffic. But whatever you do, don’t be too early and definitely don’t be late.
As you can imagine, timing is an important part of any job search. Paying attention to timing ensures you have the highest chances of putting your best foot forward.